Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas wishes

The boss has, as usual, said it all much better, though I must admit that what with one thing and another I have rarely found Christmas a time for reflection or even thought. This year is no different. Here we are at 2 am on Christmas morn and I am still baking the last things I need to bake before the festival starts. Reflection? What's that? Bah humbug.

Actually, I have always quite liked Scrooge before he went all wet and sissy and started buying turkeys that were too big to roast in time. (I mean when did the Cratchits actually get round to eating that bird?) Several things have always struck me as interesting about that book, apart from the stunning writing.

One is that it is a very fine example of Dickens's usual inability to understand that wealth is created by people who work. He really hates the idea of people being employed. They are always miserable and the bosses are either complete slave-drivers or they do not require their subordinates to do anything at all.

Secondly, it seems that in the far more religious Victorian age Christmas day was not silent with everything that could be, closed. You could buy a turkey and you could get it roasted at the local bakery, though there is some talk in the novel of the kill-joys wanting to close down the latter. Well, they have succeeded. (Of course, I live in an area that is full of non-Christians and most of the cafes, shops and restaurants stay open. Brilliant.)

Thirdly, one cannot help wondering why Bob Cratchit doesn't get a better job or stop having children or both. The truth is that he is no more responsible than Mr Micawber and considerably less entertaining.

But much can be forgiven a writer who can start a novel with the words
Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to.

Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
While we are on the subject of Christmas classics, let us take a quick look at the perennial favourite and much better film than I expected, "It's a Wonderful Life". Hands up all those who realized that what George Bailey does is hand out subprime mortgages. Bah humbug.

There are good things about Christmas, though. The food, for instance. Because of my somewhat rackety childhood and teenage years, I have managed to pick up the cooking and eating habits of different countries and that brightens up all festivals. (I fully expect some angry responses about uppity immigrants and how wonderful it is to have countries where they are not allowed to integrate; where they can pay taxes but are not allowed to vote. Bring it on. Christmas does not make me any gentler a personality.)

Well, there we are. I have done my share of bah-humbugging and had better retreat into baa-lamb mode. Next year will be difficult for many. So let us enjoy ourselves while we can (if we can, which is something I cannot help wondering about). A very happy Christmas to all our readers. We shall be back after the festivity.